Del Toro, Miramax peek under the stairs


Guillermo del Toro and Miramax will produce a remake of the horror-thriller telefilm "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," the specialty distributor's first big dive into genre filmmaking under president Daniel Battsek.

Comic book artist-writer Troy Nixey will make his feature directorial debut with the adaptation of ABC's 1973 cult classic. Del Toro is adapting Nigel McKeand's teleplay with Matthew Robbins, his writing partner on the 1997 horror film "Mimic" for Miramax's former genre label Dimension.

"Dark" centers on a young girl, sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend, who discovers sinister creatures that live underneath the stairs.

Michael Falbo, Miramax's director of production and development, will oversee the project for the studio under president of production Keri Putnam.

The film is in its early stages; research and development of the monsters hasn't begun yet, and other producers might come aboard. Moviegoers can expect an upscale creature feature along the lines of del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," with an emphasis on distinctive characters in keeping with the Miramax slate.

Directed by John Newland, the original telefilm (known as "Nightmare" in Europe) gained a cult following through syndication and home video release.

Nixey wrote and directed the 2007 supernatural thriller short "Latchkey's Lament," a mix of CGI animation and live action. He has became known for illustrating "Batman" and "Matrix" comics as well as writing and illustrating Dark Horse Comics' "Trout," which is in development at Phoenix Pictures.

"It has always been a dream of mine to work on a project with Guillermo, my favorite filmmaker," Nixey said. "I had no idea it would be on my first one out. Miramax's faith in me is everything a first-time director could ask for."

Nixey is one of several emerging filmmakers, including "Orphanage" helmer Juan Antonio Bayona, mentored by del Toro.

Peter McPartlin, vp business affairs and legal, negotiated the deal on behalf of Miramax. Endeavor and Gary Ungar at Exile Entertainment, who rep del Toro and Nixey, negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers. Robbins is repped by the Pitt Group. (partialdiff)